How to Address Diversity and Inclusion Concerns in the Workplace
More and more companies nowadays have committed themselves to increasing diversity within the workplace. Some industries and offices seem to be doing better than others, however. So what do you do if your office is not adequately addressing the need for a more diverse workplace? Read on for how to raise concerns to the higher ups, as well as ways you can help on an individual level.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that most companies care first and foremost about…the bottom line. Thus, it makes sense to appeal to the money-making aspect when bringing up issues of diversity. Use the momentum from the movement as a whole to highlight the pressure companies (including yours) are facing from customers, clients, partners, etc. to demonstrate a diverse workforce. If those in charge fear a lack of diversity will hurt their financial prospects, it may spur them to reconsider their current (in)actions.
A lack of diversity hurts business
A lack of diversity also hurts business when the demographics within your company do not match the markets you serve (whatever markets those may be). Recruiter points out many companies “have unwittingly created insensitive products or taken insensitive approaches to new markets” due to the simple fact that they did not have anyone on their teams who was actually a member of the particular community or market.
The more diverse the teams that companies create—that is, teams that include people from all different ethnicities, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, etc.—the more likely the company is to be able to tap into what appeals to that particular part of society. That will prove helpful no matter what industry your particular company resides in, because business is ultimately about people.
Diversity attracts talent
It might also be beneficial to point out to your higher ups that diversity helps not just on the customer or client end, but also on the employee end. An increase in inclusion means your company will be more likely to attract and, perhaps even more importantly, retain good employees. No corporation wants to deal with high employee turnover rates and all the added expense that entails. Try framing an increase of diversity as an advertisement to potential employees that your company is on the forefront of progress.
Seek out opportunities to make a difference
The truth is there is only so much you can do to change corporate culture on an individual basis. Beyond bringing up your concerns with the company’s higher ups (and ideally getting your coworkers to do the same), you can also focus on helping out on your own time. How? PayScale recommends mentoring someone completely different than yourself. That is, find a peer, a subordinate, or even someone completely outside of your organization who comes from a different background, and provide the kind of opportunities he or she might not otherwise have received.
Perhaps you could even create a mentorship program within the company with a focus on diversity. You can also try volunteering at organizations that include a diverse community and keep those with whom you volunteer in mind when a job opening becomes available at your workplace. If you come from a strong alumni background, you might try volunteering for on-campus recruitment or simply become more active in your alumni network in order to keep an eye out for more diverse recruits who could be a great fit for the company.
Most companies have a long way to go when it comes to achieving true diversity. That does not mean, however, that employees should give up and become complacent when they recognize the company in which they work is failing. It’s true you may not ultimately be able to shift your entire company culture—and it certainly will not happen overnight. But bringing up your concerns is a great first step toward letting businesses know the corporate world as a whole is serious about making sure everyone is represented.